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Collaboration Between Teachers and Related Service Providers

According to Merriam-Webster dictionary to collaborate means “to work with another person or group in order to achieve or do something.” When we work with children we are constantly blog-collaboration-main-landscape-01collaborating in order to provide children with the best possible education. Within a school there is a lot of collaboration that is evident between teachers, teachers and paraprofessionals, teachers and administrators, as well as between teachers and parents/families. Within special education there is a lot of collaboration that occurs as well in the school setting. But what about outside the school setting?

Many of the students who receive special education services within the school also receive services outside of the school setting. It is essential that the lines of communication are open not only within schools but with these other related service providers that are involved in a specific student’s daily life. Every individual or company that is involved in the well-being and education of the child should be communicating their role and how that can be facilitated throughout the child’s day to day life. This collaboration is key to ensuring that the child is receiving the best services and education. So how do we go about collaborating with other service providers?

There are many ways to collaborate. The key to collaboration is communication! The parent is the mediator since they have direct contact with teachers and the other service providers.

Below are some important ways that we can open up the flow of communication:

What parents can do:

  • Provide each teacher and/or provider with a contact information document.
    • This should include the names and contact information of teachers and other providers who work with your child.
  • Check–in with the various adults that work with your child to ensure that they have gotten in touch.
  • Provide updates yourself to teachers or other service providers about your child’s goals and progress.

What teachers can do:

  • Ask parents for contact information of other service providers that the student might be seeing (if the parent doesn’t provide you with this information).
  • Reach out to other service providers.
  • Update other service providers throughout the school year in regards to the student’s performance and goals.

What service providers can do:

  • Ask parents for contact information of other services providers that the student might be seeing (if the parent doesn’t provide you with this information).
  • Reach out to other service providers
  • Update other service providers and teachers throughout the year in regards to the student’s performance and goals.

The points made above are essential to ensuring that the lines of communication have been opened and everyone can begin to collaborate!

Collaborating is more than just emailing and making phone calls with updates. It should also involve meeting in person as a group and individually to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Once introductions have been completed a meeting should be arranged with all professionals and the family. This provides everyone with the opportunity to meet! In addition, it gives everyone the time to sit down and discuss the child so that everyone can ensure that they are all working together allowing fluidity between the variety of settings that the child will be in.

One meeting is not enough! Make sure at the end of the meeting that a date and time is set for another meeting a few months down the line. This meeting would be more about progress, new goals, successes or challenges that any of the professionals or family are having with the child.

Collaboration is all about teamwork! Working as a team is essential for the success of the children that we work with. We need to ensure that we continue to keep the lines of communication open and work with each other and the family. It is important to loop all professionals the family into decision making processes and program planning. It is also important to share a child’s success and progress so that the same high standard and expectations are held for the child no matter the setting. Collaboration is a truly important component in ensuring that our children are provided with the best services and education.

For additional information, check out our other Autism and school blogs.

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Milwaukee. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates!

Meet-With-An-Applied-Behavior-Analyst

Tips to Establish a Good Relationship With Your Child’s Teacher

With the summer winding down, now is the time to start preparing your child for a successful school year. Transitioning from the leisure activities of the summer to the emergence of structure can be difficult, so planning ahead can be critical. One important component for success at school is good communication with your child’s teacher. Follow these helpful steps to initiate a strong relationship with your child’s teacher.

Tips to Establish a Good Relationship With Your Child’s Teacher:

  1. Set up a phone call or face-to-face meeting. Connecting with your child’s teacher prior to theHow to Establish a Strong Relationship With Your Child's Teacher beginning of school, or during the first weeks, can be essential to provide introductions and a brief dialogue about your child’s strengths and needs. This will allow the teacher to gain insights ahead of time to plan ahead with how to accommodate the student and carry over strategies that have been helpful in the past. If your child experiences separation or transitional challenges, try to arrange a prior meeting with the teacher before the school doors open to facilitate comfort, recognition, and familiarity.
  2. Have your child create a “get to know me” project that can be given to the teacher at the beginning of the year. This can be an art project, a letter, or list of positive aspects of self and what the child hopes to learn this year. This can educate the teacher on a child’s likes/dislikes and personal knowledge to begin making connections.
  3. Show gratitude. The student-teacher relationship is a special bond that takes time to cultivate. Whether it is simply sharing a compliment “I really liked that lesson” or bringing the teacher a special, thoughtful treat can help your child stand out.
  4. Discuss with the teacher a plan for collaboration as the year progresses. Work towards setting up a system of phone calls or email chains that can be used to transmit critical information and updates as needed. This can serve as a more proactive mode of communication to minimize crises or challenges.
  5. Teach your child self-advocacy skills. Educate your child on how to assertively communicate needs to the teacher. If the child is shy and struggles with initiating comprehension questions or something like needing to go to the bathroom, practice role playing stressful scenarios with your child. Work with your child to identify areas of concern and create coping statements that your child can implement as needed.
  6. Establish effective check-in strategies. If your child struggles with organization, math skills, or just simply calming down after lunch/recess, work with the teacher to identify times throughout the day that the child and teacher can check-in. Depending on age, the parent can work with the teacher to facilitate this or the child can independently initiate question-asking or assistance throughout identified times of the day. If the child is cautious about being singled-out in a “check-in” forum, encourage the teacher and child to create a discreet hand signal or gesture to indicate assistance, help, or feeling lost.

Click here for more tips to transition from the summer to the school year.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

signs a child may need PT at school

Signs at School a Child May Need Physical Therapy

Teachers can be wonderful allies to the healthcare field. They spend up to 8 hours a day observing and helping children. Often times, they are the first to notice concerning signs, and when given the right tools, can direct parents where to go to get their children the help they need. Here a few signs teachers can look out for that would warrant a physical therapy screen.

5 Signs at School a Child May Need Physical Therapy:

  1. Unable to keep up with peers during recess or P.E – This may present as a child whosigns a child may need PT at school doesn’t follow friends onto the jungle gym or pulls themselves out of games of tag. A child would benefit from a physical therapy screen if they are unable to perform a jumping jack or skip forward.
  2. “W”-sits or props onto arm when sitting criss-cross – A child who sits in a “w” position or props onto their arm when sitting on the floor may present with weak core muscles. Weak core muscles result in a poor foundation for other fine motor skills, and may present in sloppy or slow handwriting, poor cutting skills, or decreased independence in self care tasks.
  3. Places both feet onto step when going up and down stairs – A child should be able to go up and down a set of stairs, without holding onto a handrail, by the age of 4. A child who presents difficulty, or immature form, during a stair task, may have lower extremity weakness, impaired balance, or developmental coordination disorder.
  4. Toe-Walking Toe-walking or early heel rise during gait (which may looking like bouncing while walking) can arise from a multitude of impairments including muscle tightness, core weakness, impaired balance, etc. Prolonged toe-walking may also result in any of the above, excessive falls, or muscle contractures.
  5. Poor sitting posture at desk – Poor posture may be a sign of decreased endurance of trunk muscles. Trunk weakness may also result in a poor foundation for fine motor skills, resulting in poor handwriting, decreased grasping ability, or decreased independence in self care tasks.

Click here to view our gross motor milestones infographic!

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

prep your child's teacher to help your child with ADHD

How to Prep Your Child’s Teacher to Work with an ADHD Diagnosis

To start the school year out right for your child with and ADHD (or other) diagnosis, it is important to establish a close collaboration between you, your child’s teacher, any professionals of the treatment team, and your child!  Here is how you can prepare your child’s teacher to best understand your child’s needs to get off to a great start this academic year.

10 tips to prepare your child’s teacher to best help your child with an ADHD diagnosis:

1. Request to set up a meeting at the start of school year.

2. Get an idea of what your child’s teacher knows about ADHD and his general attitude towards ADHD. Some teachers may be more or less informed about ADHD, as research and diagnostic criteria has changed quite a bit over the years.
3. Inform the teacher of your child’s ADHD diagnosis (or other diagnosis), if he is on any medication or if you chose an alternative treatment method.

4. Find out what the culture of the classroom is like:

  • Structure: Is the daily schedule posted?  Does the teacher request frequent “brain breaks” during the day?
  • How does she describe her teaching style?
  • Rules & Expectations: Are there visual reminders posted around the room? What is the reward system? Incentives? Token System?  Nature of the homework assignments? Seating arrangements?
  • Can your child sit facing the front and close to the teacher?

5. Discuss the best way to contact one another (i.e. via phone or email).
6. Discuss if any notes home or behavioral report cards are necessary or how often?
7. Pass along any recommendations to your child’s teacher that she can implement that you have found helpful  for your child.

Examples:

  • “Jake does well when given one command at a time versus following multiple steps at once.”
  • “At home, we have found that having Jessica repeat back directions or rules, helps her to be more accountable.”
  •  “We use the token system at home and Sam seems to do well with it when we are consistent.”

8. Be supportive and open.

  • Assist the teacher in any way by being supportive and open to suggestions he or she may have.
  • Let the teacher know you want to work as team to make it a successful year for everyone.

9. Offer Praise and appreciation: A positive attitude with your child’s teacher creates a stronger relationship with all involved!

10. Request to set up a follow-up meeting to check-in : This could be half-way through the school year or sooner depending on the needs of your child.

Click here to read about self-regulating strategies to help children with ADHD.

Top 10 To-Do List For Parent Teacher Conference

Parent teacher conferences serve as an important time in a child’s academic year. The teacher is able to provide updates and insight parent teacher conferencesinto the student’s progress within the classroom.  In today’s schools teacher’s conferences schedules are often jam packed and you might only have fifteen precious minutes with the teacher to talk about your child. What we advise you to do is to be prepared in order to get the most out of the conference. The following are suggestions that we recommend to help with the conference.

10 Tips to Prepare for Conferences:

  1. Ask the teacher to log behaviors or issues at the beginning of the year so you have concrete examples as to the behaviors the child is engaging in.
  2. Make a questions list beforehand. Focus questions not only how the child is doing academically but also socially and behaviorally.
  3. Ask your child if there is anything new you should know before you go in.
  4. Ask your child what he or she likes about school and also what he or she does not like.
  5. Ask the teacher how you can make sure your child reaches his or her potential? What extra activities would be recommended?
  6. Ask the teacher who your child is friends with and how that area is going.
  7. Ask her who he or she sits with at lunch and if he or she smiles a lot and looks happy.
  8. Ask the teacher if she has any other concerns about your child besides academics.
  9. If the teacher says anything negative about your child, without follow up, ask for a solution(s) and tell her you also will think of some.
  10. Don’t be defensive, just ask good questions!

Remember that the teacher is there to help your child develop to the highest potential. It is important to take the advice that is provided as they have seen many children and are able to readily identify areas of strength and weakness. It is important to work as a team to make sure your child’s academic and social needs are met.

 Download our Parent/Teacher Conference Checklist by Clicking Here!

Keeping Up Behavior Goals at Home and at School

You have already taken the first positive step to developing a set of behavior goals for your child; however, as it is true with many of life’s most boy yellingimportant projects, follow-up is equally important as the initial step.

This blog offers suggestions relating to meeting those behavior goals you have set for your child by using three basic techniques:

  • Making Tracking Behavior Fun
  • Using Public Posting as a Motivator
  • Involving your child in the process of tracking behavior.

Making Tracking Behavior

The task of tracking behavior is much more effective (and pleasant) when you and your child cooperate as a team.  For instance, allowing your child to participate in making or decorating their behavior goal chart may make the process more fun.  Sit down with your child with a poster board and crafts materials to come up with the chart as a team!

Using Public Posting as a Motivator

It is important to understand that public posting should be used to motivate, rather than punish your child.  For that reason, using a reward-based system, such as giving gold star stickers, is a great way to get results. It also allows your child to see their progress he has made.

Involving Your Child in the Process of Tracking Behavior

Children respond best to behavior goal programs when they are involved in the data tracking.  Whichever system you are using, be sure to involve your child in the data tracking element.  For example, if you are using a chart in which behaviors are tracked with a tally system, allow your child to make the tally marks and be sure that they understand what the marks signify.  By doing this, they will be more involved in the process of tracking behavior and they will better understand the goals they are trying to achieve!

Get Teachers involved in Tracking Behavior

Consistency is crucial when it comes to reaching behavioral goals.  This implies that the behaviors need to be tracked and addressed at school as well as at home.  Teachers are a great resource that can help your child reach behavioral goals. Open a dialogue with them and do not be afraid to discuss any behavioral issues that you are trying to address.  Goal-based programs are much more successful when all of the child’s caretakers are on the same page!

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Diagnosing ADHD

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common neurological conditions that affects between 3 to 6 percent of school-aged boy jumping on couch children.  Children with this condition exhibit significant issues with their ability to pay attention to tasks, inhibit their impulses and/or regulate their behavior.   In order for the diagnosis to be made, one has to witness significant impairment in regards to attentional regulation and/or activity level within multiple settings.  This means that the child must exhibit the concerns within the home, school, after-school program, sports team, etc.  In reality, the diagnosis can be made by a pediatrician or health care provider that is able to ascertain levels of functioning in the various domains by observing behavior or collecting parent and teacher report forms.

In the Neuropsychology Department at North Shore Pediatric Therapy, we focus on a comprehensive evaluation of a child’s functioning, including cognitive functioning, academic achievement, attentional regulation, executive functioning and social/emotional functioning.  Now, if the diagnosis can be made by a parent and teacher report, one must ask why a comprehensive evaluation should be mandated.  The answer to this is that over 45% of children that have been diagnosed with ADHD meet clinical criteria for multiple neurodevelopmental conditions.  Children with ADHD often present learning disabilities, emotional concerns and deficits with social regulation.  Sole treatment of the inattention may improve attentional regulation; however, there are other unaddressed concerns that may still linger.

Research has continuously demonstrated that the most common treatment of ADHD is a combination of pharmacological intervention, behavioral therapy, parent training, and teacher education.  Pharmacological intervention consists of stimulant medications that help to improve the child’s ability to attend to tasks.  A recent research article, which was even reported in an October edition of the Chicago Tribune, indicated that the majority of children who have been diagnosed with ADHD and are prescribed medication report significant improvement within their daily lives.  In the past, the main identification of improvement within children with ADHD was based upon teacher report.  Parents can now feel comfortable when asking their child if medication is helping. Behavior therapy focuses on the modification of the child’s environment to improve the frequency and duration of positive, on-task behaviors while extinguishing negative behaviors.  Parent and teacher education has a primary intent on discussing expectations within the home and school settings as well as possible modifications to ensure success.


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How to Build a Positive Relationship with your Child’s Teacher | Tips from Moms and Teachers

As a mother of 3 children, and having been a teacher myself for many years before having my own kids, I find it interesting to be on “the other end” ofthe parent/teacher relationship. So how does a parent build that positive relationship with teachers? Here are a few tips that I picked up along the way as both a parent and a teacher.

How to Build a Positive Relationship with Your Child’s Teacher:

  • Start out right. Send an email a week or two into the school year outlining the positives you have seen from your child. Simply write something along the lines of, “I am really impressed with how Jacob came home yesterday knowing all of the planets!”. This simple stmom and teacher with boyep will open up lines of communication with the teacher early on, while at the same time showing the teacher that you are paying attention to what is going on at school and that you care.
  • Ask the teacher what you can do to help! Is there something you can volunteer for in the classroom? Are there activities you can help organize? Are there donations you can make to optimize the room? How can you make life easier for the teacher? By offering your services and time, you are showing the teacher that you truly care about helping her have an easier year.
  • Do not overwhelm the teacher! It is good to make sure your child’s teacher is well versed in everything they NEED to know about your child. But you must also give them space. It can become hard for a teacher to prepare, learn and teach your child if you are contacting them every day telling them what to do or not do. You may even be surprised when they are able to help your child in innovative ways that you never thought were possible before!
  • Show appreciation. Everybody likes to know they are appreciated, and teachers are no exception. You don’t have to break the bank buying them tons of gifts. However, teachers do not get paid as much as they should, and they do not just work on your child’s education only during school hours. Most work at nights and on weekends in order to complete everything they need! So yes, it is nice to get them a little something during the holiday break and at the end of the year. It is even nicer if you have your child draw them a picture or write them a letter to show appreciation. This, of course, can be done throughout the year!
  • Be prepared in case something goes wrong. In most cases, there will be something that you are unhappy with at school. You must speak up right away. Do not wait to say something, or just hope that the problem will go away on its own. Explain to the teacher that you would like to problem solve with her/him and your child all together. This way you aren’t putting all the pressure on just the teacher. If you child has certain special needs or has his/her own education plan, read this blog on how to further help: https://nspt4kids.com/therapy/start-the-school-year-out-right/ .

Tips from Teachers on How to Make The Year Successful For Your Child:

Preschool Tips | By: Mrs. Alexandra Feiger, 2-3yr old Preschool Teacher at the Jewish Community Center of Chicago

  • Communication is key when sending your child to preschool. If there is something that you feel is important for us to know about your child, let us know right away. Talking with your child’s teacher about your child’s needs will help the teacher have a better understanding of who your child is and how to make sure the environment is set up in a way that will allow your child learn and feel comfortable.
  • When both parents are working, it is common for babysitters to drop off or pick up the child from school. This means that you finding out how and what your child did in school that day is based on what you hear from your 2 year old or the babysitter. If you are concerned that you are not getting enough information, or you would just like to hear from the teacher yourself how your child’s day went, the best thing to do is call or email the teacher. It is never a bother for us; in fact, we encourage parents to stay updated with what their child is learning and doing in school so they can talk about it at home and participate in the child’s learning.

Elementary School Tips | By: Mrs. Jennifer Cohn, 3rd Grade Teacher at Woodland Elementary East in Gales Lake

  • Teach kids to be responsible for their own actions and hold them accountable. So many parents continue to do things for their kids instead of teaching them to be in charge of themselves. I ask parents to check homework, but also to have their child do it him/herself and pack his/her backpack him/herself.
  • Parents should support their kids, yet let them learn how to be a successful student on their own. They will benefit in the long run and be proud of themselves when they have accomplished their goals on their own.

Middle School Tips | By: Mrs. Suzanne Mishkin, 7th Grade Special Education Teacher at McCracken Middle School in Skokie

  • Find out who your child’s advisor is before school begins. This is most often the point person for questions that are not related to a specific class, and knowing who it is will help both you and your child stay afloat of information for the whole year.
  • Parents should find out how teachers post assignments and where they can see their child’s grades. This information should be given out at Back-to-School Night. If it wasn’t, just ask!
  • Ask to see your child’s assignment book. Most teachers take care to have the students write assignments down in their assignment book each day, so you can learn a lot by looking.
  • Let the school know immediately about any changes that could affect the child, such as changes in medication levels. It is not uncommon for children in this age group to change medication or medication dosages from time to time due to hormone changes, and any information you can give the schools would be helpful.

Finally, remember that a teacher’s success is based on your child’s success. The teacher wants the best for your child, and as long as you and the teacher are working towards the same goals and have a positive relationship, you are both bound to provide your child with a great year!